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General News of Sunday, 26 July 2020

Source: GNA

President Mills was a kind friend of the vulnerable - GPHA ex-workers

Stephen Ashitey Adjei, Leader of the Ex-workers of GPHA Stephen Ashitey Adjei, Leader of the Ex-workers of GPHA

Ex-workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) whose severance benefits have remained unpaid after their retrenchment in 2002 have eulogized former President John Evans Atta Mills, on the eighth anniversary of his passing.

“When our issue got to his attention, President Mills got upset at the injustice that the GPHA had meted out to us. He issued a fiat, ordering the Ministry of Transport to resolve our issue.”

This was in a statement, signed by Mr Stephen Ashitey Adjei, Leader of the Ex-workers and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Sunday to remember the late President who took decisive steps towards ensuring that the ex-workers were paid their severance benefits when he was in office.

It however lamented that, “death would not let him live on to see through the cause of justice that he had begun as he was snatched from us exactly two weeks after he had given the order for us to be paid.

“Unfortunately, unlike President Mills, his successor did not continue it, so after his death, the march to justice stopped, and that is how come we the ex-workers have remained unpaid for 18 years now.”

The statement recalled that after the ex-workers were retrenched in 2002 without their severance benefits, they were forced to take on the GPHA, bringing their issue to the attention of various State institutions including; Parliament. Eventually, the ex-workers were forced to go to court, and out of the litigation, the GPHA paid only five (5) out of over three thousand (3,000) ex workers. “It is amazing, but it did happen; GPHA paid only five out of the three thousand people that were owed.

“In our bid to get justice for the remainder of the ex-workers, we appealed to President Mills and we were surprised at the immediacy with which he treated our issue,” the statement said.

Their letter got to President Atta Mills on 4th July 2012 and on 10th July 2012, President Mills issued the fiat ordering the Ministry of Transport to resolve the ex-workers’ issue. The Ministry began sending out invitations to leaders of the ex-workers for a meeting.

“Misfortune however struck when exactly two weeks after that on the 24th of July, President Mills became the first ever Ghanaian leader to die in office.

“We managed to return to the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, as she then was, had directed the GPHA to sit down with the ex-workers and resolve our issue before she unhappily dismissed our case on grounds of pure procedural errors by a lawyer,” the statement added.

The statement said, “Throughout our quest for justice, which we still have not abandoned, President Mills was the one leader who really took interest in our issue and took steps to give us justice. This is why we shall continue to be grateful to him even in his death.”

The statement advised politicians to have “fellow-feeling and understand that the power that they were given was to enable them serve like President Atta Mills did.”